As School Year Starts, Teachers’ Grading Authority Bolstered

In May 2009 the Texas legislature passed a truth-in-grading law designed to strengthen teachers’ grading authority by prohibiting district policies that required teachers to give students unearned “minimum grades.” In June 2010, a state district judge in Austin rejected a court challenge to the law, agreed with Texas AFT, and told school districts the law unambiguously prohibits awarding unearned cumulative grades, not just grades on individual assignments. As reported in yesterday’s hotline, Fort Bend ISD and the other ten districts that tried to block the law’s implementation now have given up their court fight and will not appeal the district judge’s decision.

So this week seems like a good time for teachers to take stock of their rights and responsibilities under the new law, codified as Section 28.0216 of the Texas Education Code. To that end, we reprint it in full below. However, our work on this issue is not done. We need to make sure school districts actually follow through and comply with the law’s requirements, and we need to maintain vigilance lest there be attempts to undo this law and curtail teachers’ grading authority in the 2011 legislative session.

“Sec. 28.0216. DISTRICT GRADING POLICY. A school district shall adopt a grading policy, including provisions for the assignment of grades on class assignments and examinations, before each school year. A district grading policy:

(1) must require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the student’s relative mastery of an assignment;

(2) may not require a classroom teacher to assign a minimum grade for an assignment without regard to the student’s quality of work; and

(3) may allow a student a reasonable opportunity to make up or redo a class assignment or examination for which the student received a failing grade.”